Former head coach Arsonia Stroud is rejoining the Lady Cougar varsity team as an assistant coach.
“She wants to offer what she can, which we all know will be tremendous, but not the stress,” said head coach Paula Blackwell. “Her presence alone and years of experience will add a lot to our program.”
Stroud’s return to the varsity bench will help the legendary coach ease into retirement.
“I’m going to savor every second I have with her,” Blackwell said. “I have really missed her being there day in and day out these past 10 years.
“She brings that old-school philosophy that I was coached by, and our kids need to experience before that generation is all gone from the coaching ranks.”
Blackwell said Stroud will work with posts and guards as well as the conditioning of the athletes. Stroud started teaching in York in 1981 and began coaching in 1984.
“Cristi Kemp will continue to work with the posts and will also spend time working with our JV posts as well as varsity,” said Blackwell.
Former Rock Hill High School coach Alicia Thompson has also joined the staff. She will teach eighth grade science and coach the eighth grade girls’ team at the middle school.
“This is the first time we’ve had a middle school coach that teaches at York Middle,” said Blackwell. “She will be there with the kids every day.”
Lindsey Dessecker will coach the seventh grade girls.
With Blackwell continuing her post as head varsity coach and Kemp and Stroud as assistants, Leigh Ziegler will coach the JV girls.
“This may be the best staff we have had from top to bottom since I came here in 1999,” said Blackwell.
The Lady Cougars have three coaches with varsity head coaching experience in Stroud, Blackwell and Thompson; three coaches who played college basketball in Kemp, Blackwell and Thompson; and two coaches who coached college basketball in Blackwell and Thompson.
“Girls in York School District One should be knocking down the gym doors on June 2 to be a part of this program,” Blackwell said. “Our facility at YCHS is second to none and our community has always supported the Lady Cougar basketball program.
“Not only do we teach our girls to play the game, we teach them to give back to their communities by volunteering at York Rec, summer camps and at local churches and nursing homes.”
The team has many activities planned for the summer.
Practices for seventh- to 12th graders begins in June.
Former Clemson player and current Limestone assistant Tasha Taylor, with other staff, will host a two-day clinic for all participants June 9 and 10.
The 11th annual York Summer Shootouts will be held June 16-17 at both YCHS gyms.
Two-time defending state champ Dutch Fork will participate both days as well as Dorman, Spartanburg, Clover, Palmetto, North Gaston, Buford, Lancaster, Northwestern and Andrew Jackson. Games will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
On June 20, all of the York teams, including varsity, JV and middle school, will head to UNCC for a two-day team camp.
“Our kids are excited about staying in a hotel away from York and the bonding that brings,” said Blackwell.
The varsity players will serve as counselors for the Annual Future Cougars Basketball Camp June 23 for boys and girls ages 5-15. The camp is held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. YCHS boys’ basketball coach Michael Dalton and his staff will help run the camp this year.
“June 23-25, our varsity group and a few select JV players will play at the Winthrop Team Camp in the evenings,” said Blackwell.
The YCHS coach hopes the Lady Cougar teams can gain valuable experience this summer that will carry over into success on the court next season at YCHS and YMS.
“As a coach, the summer is when I can truly tell how serious a player is about the game,” Blackwell said. “The days of showing up for the season are WAY OVER. All sports are becoming non-stop if you want to be competitive.
“We know we have our work cut out for us with the AAAA region, but I believe in the Lady Cougars.”